The Enchanted Garden Ball

Sorry in advance for lower quality photos than usual, but you know what its like when its late at night and everyone is relying on iphones to do the job.

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My exams finished on the 24th of May so I had a few days to start my packing, relax after all the revision and visit the beaches around Exeter (Exmouth and Dawlish) before the Enchanted Garden Ball (EGB). Its run by an outside company (The Enchanted Group) so its not run by the University but all the attendees were students. A lot of my friends, flatmates and coursemates ended up going to the ball even though the tickets sold out really quickly. I managed the get the second batch of tickets which meant they were cheaper than those who bought them later on. As well as the ticket, we purchased a £5 coach ticket to take us to and from the location (Shobrook Park, Crediton) from the University central campus.

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With a couple of my flatmates and some other Uni girls

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Once at the ball we went on a fun fair ride, went into a photo booth and got some drinks. It was all in all quite expensive for what it was, but everyone was just so happy to be finished with exams that an excuse to dress up was taken. There wasn’t any food included with the ticket but I bought a pulled chicken Vietnamese style burger there which was really good.

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With my flatmate Kate
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The Shadow Wall (Amsterdam)

I really liked the Shadow Wall memorial because it’s integrated into city, not hidden away in a museum or represented by a massive statue.

The plaques on the floor are opposite the house where the murdered people once lived which was very powerful. Check it out – its near the Magere Brug in the centre of Amsterdam.

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Copenhagen (Day 2)

The first thing we did is head to the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens. I’m not sure if it was the time of year, but to be honest they were quite underwhelming. There weren’t many exotic looking flowers despite the greenhouse and the whole place just didn’t seem very well managed or organised. So that took less time than we anticipated so we moved on to next on the list.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next we went to The Little Mermaid statue on the Langelinie promenade dedicated to Hans Christan Andersen who wrote the fairytale. This again was underwhelming as we could barely get a picture of the statue due to the mass tourists pouring off the tour buses. But when you have a great companion by your side it doesn’t really matter so we walked on and even started to use our lego selves in some silly pictures.

To be honest in some respects I am quite glad that the first two parts of the day were average because it meant we had more time to do things that otherwise we would not have done.

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Rosenborg Castle was not on our original list of things we were going to see in Copenhagen but after a quick look on google maps to see what was nearby we thought we might as well visit the castle. Alex loves castles and I love gardens so this neat and tidy castle with immaculate grounds certainly cheered us up. We sat under a rose archway for a while and just took the place in. There were a few people who had just come, popped their bikes down and started a picnic on the lawns.

 

 

We then went to The Round Tower (Rundetaarn) which is a 17th Century observatory – the oldest in Europe. It was built in honour of Denmark’s astronomical findings at the time. Every city seems to have one focal building for great views, the Shard in London, The Eiffel Tower or Montparnasse Tower in Paris, Castel Saint Angelo in Rome, and this is Copenhagen’s. We loved walking round and around and around right to the top. The pictures don’t do the views justice because it was quite a cloudy day, but they were really good. Its loving to see the colour scheme of Copenhagen – the green spires and the orange rooftops.

 

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We then finished our day with dinner at Zalt in our favourite part of the city with all the design shops and cobbled streets. We had a wonderful meal here to top of an exciting day full of unexpected things we last minute decided to do.

Evening in Nyhavn

We had the most beautiful evening in Nyhavn. In the day we had checked out the area and seen that there were many restaurants on the harbour so we decided once the day was up to go back to our accommodation, freshen up and head back out to Nyhavn. The sun was out, musicians were playing and the colourful buildings were reflecting off the water to make it a truly magical night.

I’m not going to lie it was quite difficult to find somewhere to eat. The main problem was that I don’t eat red meat and I don’t like fish so I am limited to vegetarian or poultry dishes. This is not usually a problem for me but considering we were on the harbour all the restaurants were trying to hero the local fish and most of the menus were ALL fish with no other options. We did manage to find Nyhavn C which advertised vegetarian options so I had a veggie burger. I felt a little bad because Alex just loves fish as there were some really great looking fish restaurants along the street, but at least he got plenty of fish the rest of the trip (practically every meal)!! If you like fish it’s a great place to go, but if not just be prepared.

We had a nice romantic wander around Nyhavn before head back to the hostel by metro watching the sunset.

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Hej Copenhagen

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We arrived in Copenhagen late the previous night and checked into our hostel – Danshostel Copenhagen. Copenhagen is a very expensive place to visit and as students to be able to travel to Denmark we had to hunt on the internet for this place – it is a hostel but by far the most modern and clean that I have ever visited (more like a cross between a hotel and hostel). Be warned if you are a couple the rooms have single beds so that’s just something else to bare in mind. On the walls they had some little quotes about travelling which were cool.

We got up and walked to Sundby metro station (12-15 minute walk) in the rain – not a great start to the trip after dry and warm Amsterdam. We took the metro to Christianshavn and went into the Magasin department store – it was really cool to see all the Danish brands and get a sense of how they shop. The real reason for going shopping is because it was really cold in Denmark and I had only brought lightweight cardigans on the trip with us. I managed to get a nice warm jumper – it’s red and will be seen in many of the trip pictures. In the store we had a coffee and spent our first Danish Krone on a Danish pastry.

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As soon as the weather slightly cheered up we finished our coffee and went out to explore the centre of Copenhagen. Alex had found this artist called Tortus on his instagram. Alex wanted to find the store and I’m so glad we went to the area, walking along the wet cobbles and into hidden courtyards until we found the store. Alex had a browse at the ceramics and decided that if he had enough money left at the end of the trip he would come straight back to buy something to remember the holiday by.

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Christiansborg Palace is one of the locations recommended on all the sites and guidebooks on Copenhagen so we thought we would pay it a visit. It was quite impressive so we took a few photos. One thing we weren’t sold on is the fact that there is so much construction going on in the centre of Copenhagen which kind of spoilt all of the photos and the beauty of the place.

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With Denmark the home of Lego, we then decided to visit the Lego superstore. We looked at the massive models they have built and all the stock. We then made ourselves out of Lego and Alex made one for his brother who is a big fan of Lego. I bought a little lego robot which is now on my car keys and is a nice reminder of the holiday.

Neither Alex or I had been to Denmark before and the only people we knew of that had been to Copenhagen were my grandparents and as you could imagine a lot has changed since they went!! So we decided to use the internet when planning what to do. Obviously there are plenty of ‘Best things to do in Copenhagen’ and ‘Top 10 in Copenhagen’ sites and blogs to check out for the main attractions and links to booking museums or tours. When thinking of Copenhagen, it isn’t like other European cities where there are many obvious things to do so we had to get a bit creative. With cities such as Rome you could do half of the recommended activities and still have no time to explore further. That’s the beauty of Copenhagen, its more of a relaxing city break.

Before coming I followed a lot of people on Instagram and bloggers that lived in Copenhagen to see places they go to get away from the usual tourist traps. This came in handy with Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island (Papirøen). It’s such a unique place and the nearest thing I could possibly compare it to is Borough Market in London only much, much calmer and less claustrophobic. We just took a short bus from near Christiansborg Palace.

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The market is basically a massive warehouse that has been lined with street food carts of so many cuisines – when we were there we found everything from traditional Danish, Vegan smoothies, local breweries, Chinese, Korean, Moroccan and many more. There are plenty of places to sit so we sat inside first and then ventured out to have our drinks outside overlooking the harbour. Everything was reasonably priced, with most dishes between DKK 50-80. The great thing about converting from DKK to GBP is that it’s pretty simple – you just move the decimal place. So DKK 50 is equivalent to about £5 – a very decent price for lunch in Copenhagen, trust me. Alex had a surf and turf burger and I had a Chinese plate with spring rolls and cashew chicken noodles (which was delicious)!

Paper Island was not too far from Christiania which was something on all of the lists of things to do in Copenhagen so that is where we headed next. It is a commune that is regulated by its own law in some aspects (The Christiania Law). It is a pretty liberal place, to the extent that there is just weed growing alongside other plants and bushes. Alex and I felt a little out of place and very out of our comfort zones, but that is sometimes what exploring is about so we opened our eye wide, took it all in and walked quickly in and out of the place.

 

We then walked along the harbour further and to Nyhavn – the most colourful and vibrant place I’ve ever seen.

Amsterdam (Day 3)

So after our busy morning in Haarlem, we still had a glorious afternoon and evening in Amsterdam.

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We booked into the Rijkmuseum which was pretty good and we tried to be tourists by getting pictures outside the Amsterdam sign. Amsterdam had not been busy throughout our stay but we saw more people here than anywhere else. We decided to get a quick snap because there were too many people and we didn’t want to risk being concussed by a selfie stick (or two, or a thousand). Alex got to pose next to the ‘A’ and so I didn’t miss out on the fun Alex covered half of the ‘M’ so it looked like an ‘N’!

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Magna Plaza

We popped into the Magna Plaza, not for any particular reason, but just to get a feel for a Dutch shopping mall and compare it to others we have seen around the world. I wouldn’t waste much time going there as there really weren’t that many shops and given how beautiful Amsterdam is, you’re much better off wandering the streets – near Dam Square for the chain shops and along the canals for the design and individual shops.

Before dinner we decided to find somewhere to have a drink. We went to Bleu to have a cheeky cocktail – the food looked good here as well, so it could be worth checking out.

Then for dinner we went to Vapiano. Now Alex and I aren’t really fans of going to chain restaurants when abroad (we prefer to try local restaurants) but we didn’t even realise it was a chain outside of the Netherlands until I looked it up after. It is safe to say I will be heading to the London one now I’m back in England. It is an Italian place where you go downstairs to watch the chefs make your food and customise the dishes. The prices are really good and its a totally different dining experience!

 

 

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More exploring and wandering…

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For the last lunch we decided to head back to our lunch spot on the first day for their speciality dish. It was brown bread with goats cheese and walnuts, glazed with honey. They also served it with the most delicious salad with a slightly spicy dressing. All their paninis and sandwiches are roughly €5 and for the quality and quantity that’s a lot better than your average cafe in England.

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On the last day we went to the Vincent Van Gogh Museum. I’m quite fussy about museums and the only one where I can really be entertained for hours is the Natural History Museum in London. That being said I thought this museum was really well organised with lots of text on the walls giving an insight into what was going on in Van Gogh’s life when he wrote each painting. There were also pieces donated from Vincent’s friends and colleagues which mixed things up a bit.

We got to the last day of Amsterdam and I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t tried some pancakes! Pancakes are one of my favourite foods and as a Dutch speciality, finding a pancake place was on the agenda for the day.

We found Toos en Roos on Berenstraat and popped in for an afternoon pancake (or 4) to keep us going as we had a final wander and shop for gifts.

Then it was back to our hotel to check out and head to the airport for the second leg of our summer holiday … Copenhagen, Denmark.

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The Student Hotel

We absolutely loved our stay at The Student Hotel and would really recommend it to other young travellers. Right outside the hotel is a metro and tram stop which meant that we never had to wait longer than 2 minutes to set off. To get to the main tourist/canal area, it would take us about 12-15 minutes but it was well worth being slightly out of the centre because it meant we could save a lot of money.

The rooms were pretty basic (like uni accommodation) but when you are out and about all day all you really need is a nice comfy bed and a bathroom. We spent a lot of our downtime before heading out in the evenings to dinner/night cruise/ice bar playing table tennis or pool and other students were watching the Euros in the lobby.